Best Acoustic Guitar String Review – Top Rated Models in 2018 with Buying Guide
If you are pressed for time, but you want to learn about the best acoustic guitar strings, you will find here all the information you seek. After evaluating and comparing various critically acclaimed products on the market, our research team concluded that the D’Addario EJ16-3D is the model you should be spending money on. These Phosphor Bronze strings are capable of rendering sound that is balanced, warm, and acoustically accurate, which means that they will contribute to the betterment of your performance. The core is made of carbon steel and makes the strings extremely durable. One of the greatest advantages offered by these strings is that they are versatile and can be used for a broad range of musical genres. Should the D’Addario EJ16-3D be out of stock, our researchers recommend the Elixir Strings 11052, as a second solid alternative that will not let you down.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
When looking for good acoustic guitar strings, it may not always be easy to find the right product quickly. That is why we want to come to the rescue and offer you a selection of strings that will surely make playing the guitar a much more enjoyable experience.
D’Addario EJ16-3D (B000OR2RNM)
D’Addario is a company well known for their innovations in the music equipment industry, and these strings are another fine example of the craftsmanship this manufactured is famous for. These D’Addario acoustic guitar strings are made from Phosphor Bronze, a technology first introduced to the market by this string manufacturer in 1974.
The well-balanced tone these strings easily achieve makes them a hit with guitar players everywhere. If you want to practice to the most of your abilities and enjoy a warm, bright sound, these are the strings you should go for. They are resistant to corrosion, so they are a sound investment, too.
No matter what musical genre you prefer, you will find these strings to be versatile and helpful. Like all the other D’Addario products, these are proudly made in the US, and they abide by the highest standards of performance and quality. Also, the textured feel of the strings will make you feel like you are playing on traditional strings.
Elixir Strings 11052 (B0002E1O2C)
When you go shopping for music equipment and accessories, you will often be advised against buying cheap acoustic guitar strings. However, this does not mean that you cannot strike a good balance between decent pricing and more than adequate quality. The Elixir Strings 11052 is an excellent example in this regard.
The strings are made from 80% copper and 20% zinc, which means that they are durable and the sound they produce is warm and bright, exactly how most guitar players prefer. The wrap on the exterior is made from bronze, for extended durability. If you like your strings to produce an excellent, stable vibration with each pinch, these strings may be right up your alley.
You may also hear a lot that coated strings offer a subpar performance, but, again, this is not the case with these strings. The Nanoweb coating applied on each string eliminates all the disadvantages. You will not feel the coating at all, and the strings will behave just as intended.
Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (B00CAV0TRQ)
If you’re interested in striking a good deal, this package containing three full sets of strings is an excellent option. These strings are part of a series used by famous names in the music industry, such as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Slash, so you will know that you make the right decision, should you decide to go for them.
The strings are protected by a special wrapping that ensures that the strings remain in mint condition until you decide to take them out and start using them. That can be an issue when you purchase multiple sets, and it is a good thing that the people working at Ernie Ball thought about this aspect.
Only superior materials are used for making these excellent strings. They are also made in the US so that you can expect the highest levels of performance and quality. The first strings in this series were made more than 50 years ago, and don’t be surprised to discover that they are still going strong.
Ernie Ball 2146 Earthwood (B0002DUQ04)
When shopping around for acoustic guitar strings for beginners, do not hesitate to pay a little attention to these strings. The name of the strings is justified by the superb expressive sound they create, full and loud. At the same time, they lose nothing on clarity, which means that you get a sound that is bright and loud enough, without giving up on anything.
This company uses only the highest quality materials on the market, and you can rest assured that nothing is spared regarding performance. The string combination involves 92% copper, 7.7% tin, and a tiny bit of phosphorus used for the wire.
You can keep the strings in their original package for as long as you like, as the special packaging used by the company ensures that they remain fresh without any trouble. The mellow sound is quite a hit with guitar players everywhere, hence the name. The steel core provides their excellent durability.
Martin MSP4200 (B0002D0CAI)
Beginners are often advised to go for light and ultra-light strings. However, if you are already advanced and you want to try something new, these medium strings may be exactly what you are looking for. Without going straight for heavy strings that may hurt your fingers, try the Martin MSP4200.
The Phosphor Bronze string composition ensures that you get to enjoy both durability and performance. As any other well-known string manufacturer, Martin uses a special winding alloy for enhancing tonality. With these strings, you can rest assured that you will get the deep bass sounds you are after, while the trebles are still bright and clear.
You don’t have to worry that the strings will become damaged too easily. These are made for daily use, so you can practice to your heart’s content and get better. This company is dedicated to the highest standards of quality, which means that both the core and the wire for the wrapping must abide by strict requirements.
Martin M170 (B001Q8DJO4)
If you want a good option for beginners, and you want to go extra light, the Martin M170 is the sort of choice you should bear in mind. These extra light strings are sold in packs of three sets, which means that you also strike a good deal, by spending little. You will appreciate how easy it is to play these strings. If you are just starting out, there is hardly a better choice for you.
According to some buyers, the strings even go the extra mile, in the sense that while they feel light and manageable, they deliver a sound quality that is on par with what you should expect from medium strings. That being said, you will lose nothing concerning brightness and volume.
The 80/20 combination of copper and zinc makes the strings sound warm and bright. Especially if you have small hands, you will find these strings a good option for you. Any beginner should consider getting extra light strings, and these are an excellent choice.
Fender 60L 0730060405 (B003B0A6ZK)
There are many times when an acoustic guitar comes in handy, even for artists who prefer to play an electric guitar. That means that you should also have a good set of strings. The Fender 60L 0730060405 is the model you should go for if you are a singer and songwriter at the same time.
The Phosphor Bronze composition offers the extra edge you might be after. If you want a sound that is warmer and richer than the usual 80/20 type, you will find these strings optimal for what you have in mind. The depth acquired will let you explore various options for your songs or interpretation with pinpoint accuracy.
For solo guitarists, they are the most indicated. They also complement the singer’s voice, with no need for other instruments. If you’re a one-person band, you will find a useful ally in these strings. The warm, rich sound produced will complement your voice and make you an instant hit the next time you perform.
Martin MM12 Retro (B00JQZS4HG)
Acoustic guitars do not do well with nickel strings, but it takes a veteran string manufacturer to make such a combination happen. It is possible to have nickel strings on your acoustic guitar, but, if you want to make a choice that will never let you down, the Martin MM12 Retro should be on top of the list.
The number one problem with nickel strings is that they don’t produce the same sound volume as copper strings. In case you want to use an amplification device, however, you will find nickel strings a better choice.
But this is not the only thing that should convince you to try the nickel strings made by Martin. The manufacturer uses a proprietary alloy that makes the strings bring forward a retro sound that you will not find anywhere else. Your acoustic guitar will sound more like an instrument for older, golden times when the instrument you love and appreciate was the only thing accompanying a skillful artist.
Elixir Strings 16539 (B0153D1I40)
These 80/20 strings come with bronze wire for the wrapping so that you can count on their excellent durability and textured feel. The strings will vibrate and produce plenty of sound volume, something that many people like and appreciate. Another thing that must be said about these strings is that they come coated.
The main reason why you should pick coated strings is for extending their lifespan. Strings tend to accumulate oil and dirt, and that reduces their usability. A thin layer of coating prevents such damage, and the strings are also easier to clean. On the downside, something from the richness of tonality is lost.
To prevent such a thing, this manufacturer uses an ultra-thin coating that makes the string feel smooth and more powerful. The patented technology used ensures that any corrosion and buildup of grime are eliminated, and you will get to enjoy these strings for a longer time. At the same time, the strings still have a vibrant presence, for rich tonality.
John Pearse 600L (B0002GIW3Y)
Among the many acoustic guitar strings for sale, you will also find the John Pearse 600L. These are the ideal choice for beginners as they are light and extra light, and they are easy to play. The main issue with trying too hard from the get-go as a beginner is that you will end up with your fingers hurting, and you will not be able to develop the necessary calluses for playing the strings for hours.
These strings are quite an excellent introduction for you. They are also Phosphor Bronze, which means that you will get a warmer, richer tone, than when using 80/20 strings. They are tightly wound, which means that you will get enough vibration, too.
However, you must bear in mind that if you practice regularly, you will have to replace the strings on your guitar every several months. These strings are not the most durable on the market, but they are a reliable option for people who are just starting out.
Martin M150 (B002HFIEQI)
Guitar strings need to be replaced yearly, or twice a year, depending on how often you play. Some people who are dedicated to the task of becoming better guitar players even need to replace them more often. While guitar strings are built with durability in mind, they still break, and that is something you should bear in mind.
That being said, purchasing a pack with multiple sets is an excellent idea. Martin offers this special deal that can be just the right choice for someone who knows that they will have to replace their guitar strings quite often. This pack contains three sets, and it should be enough to last you for an entire year, if not longer.
The medium strings are the optimal choice for an advanced player. Even if you don’t feel up to the task of trying heavy strings, you can push yourself a little by replacing your light strings with medium ones, like the Martin M150.
Fender 60L (B01KV5N13Q)
Fender may be known better for their electric guitars, but they do just as fine a job for artists who prefer acoustic guitars. These strings are made especially for such an instrument, and their Phosphor Bronze composition makes them a hit with people who want to achieve a warmer and fuller tonality than when playing with regular 80/20 strings.
The ball-end design ensures that the strings will have the right tension to produce enough vibration and volume. They are a reliable alternative for people who are singing and writing songs, prefer to perform solo, and even for someone who is in a band. Even if you are part of a group, you will still manage to stand out with the help of these excellent strings.
The well-balanced acoustics are the main selling point of these strings, though. The higher frequencies are better tamed with the right instrument, and they give you just the edge you want.
Ernie Ball Earthwood Silk and Steel (B0002DVB7Q)
Silk and Steel strings are not as standard as the usual 80/20 and Phosphor Bronze compositions, but they are worth taking into consideration, especially when they are made by a company with such a solid reputation as Ernie Ball. What makes these strings so special is the layer of silk wrapped around and placed between the core and the 80/20 composition.
The acoustics you will obtain will be mellower than what you might have already come to expect from other strings. An upside that must be mentioned is that the strings also feel more comfortable to the touch, which means that you may give your fingers a well-deserved break.
You will notice that you will produce less finger noise and that you will help you focus on practicing your notes in a more comfortable setting. The strings are light, so they are an excellent option for beginners who need a bit more forgiving equipment, so they don’t have to hurt their fingers all the time.
D’Addario EJ47 (B000OR88ZI)
These strings are designed for guitar players who want to ensure that they are capable of achieving the most precise trebles every time. The D’Addario EJ47 may be constructed for more advanced players who know exactly what they seek in a set of strings. The nylon used for the treble strings is engineered to perfection, so expect consistency and predictability when playing them.
The bass strings are also built for precision, and you will appreciate the warm tonality they are capable of producing. Due to the normal tension in the strings, you will be able to acquire the much-needed balance for your sound, and you will not be displeased with the sound volume, either.
The basses are made from 80/20 combination, and they are dependable. At the same time, the bright acoustics will make your performance dynamic and consistent. Pro-Arte remains one of the most popular series created by D’Addario, a manufacturer with a well-established reputation in the US and not only.
Ernie Ball P02566 (B00JPSXCV2)
Coated strings can be a problem in the sense that they can rob some of the performance away from the player. While there are new technologies used for coating guitar strings to prolong their lifespan, some guitar players still prefer to have their string uncoated. Ernie Ball manages to make a good compromise with these particular strings.
The aluminum oxide used for treating the strings offers a good option for preventing corrosion. At the same time, this layer does not behave like a conventional coating so that you will lose nothing from the tonality and overall performance. At the same time, the lifespan of the strings will be significantly increased.
The steel core, shaped as a hexagon, ensures higher durability and also helps with low-end frequencies. Each note will be heard, and this note separation ability will convince you that these may be just the strings you have been looking for. The wrap wire made from aluminum bronze ensures crisper low and highs.
Martin MEC13 Clapton’s Choice (B000BMFJ9Y)
These Phosphor Bronze strings are designed with a single purpose in mind. That goal is to make sure that note you hit is bright and warm, while you can work towards expressing your individuality. They are named Clapton’s Choice, and it is no marketing gimmick. The artist is known to be fond of the strings produced by Martin, so if you want to play like the famous guitarist, at least you will know what equipment he uses.
The 92/8 blend of copper and zinc with a touch of phosphorus helps to bring forward a mellower tone, precisely like the one Eric Clapton is known for. Martin is a company with a well-established tradition in making such strings, and the quality and performance they offer are the only recommendations they need.
These are medium strings, so they may not be the wisest choice for a beginner. But, if you are looking to hone your skill and become a better guitarist, they are ideal in every way.
Yearly Guide & Report
Are you looking for the best strings for acoustic guitars? First, you may want to learn a few things about them. While for electric guitars, strings may not be paramount for sound quality, since you will be using amplification and all sorts of effects, for acoustic guitars, such an aspect is of the utmost importance. Choosing the right ones can be quite a challenge, and that is why we want to help you out by offering this comprehensive buying guide.
A little bit about materials
The core of the strings must be made of metal. This is something that does not only counts towards the durability of the strings but also towards the way the strings will sound as played. Just something to bear in mind, you will still have to practice to become a good guitar player, but choosing the right strings will make the entire learning process more enjoyable since the sounds you create will be as rich and warm as you like.
That being said, acoustic guitar strings use copper alloys for the core, while electric guitars use nickel and steel. While nothing stops you from using nickel strings on an acoustic guitar, you will not get the same sound effect, and that will impact your overall performance. However, if you use the guitar plugged to an amplification device, there might be some advantages to enjoy from nickel strings, too.
As a general rule, you should go for strings made with a copper alloy core. The sound delivered is more balanced, warmer and richer, than in the case of nickel strings, so you may want to bear this particular aspect in mind.
Types of strings
When talking about different types of acoustic guitar strings, you should know that there are just a few to consider. The various ups and downs of each type will help you decide with much greater ease on one or another. String composition matters and you will notice when browsing through different models available, that all manufacturers mention what type of strings they use.
The impact the materials strings are made of has on the tonality of the sound rendered when playing an acoustic guitar is vital. You may see string description mentioning that the strings render a sound that is warm, bright, or mellow. Of course, it is up to you to discover what you like best, and it also serves to take after artists who inspire you and their choice of strings. That will help you achieve the sound tonality that is close to their style.
Now, let’s see what types of strings are available on the market, and what makes each of them special. The first and probably most common type is 80/20 Bronze. The name describes the composition of the guitar strings, as they are made from an alloy that contains 80% copper and 20% zinc.
As far as the sound produced is concerned, what you will get when striking the strings is a bell-like sound. The tonality of these strings is bright and focuses on the high frequency of the guitar, which is why they may work better for larger instruments.
The second most common type of strings available is Phosphor Bronze. The alloy used for these strings is made of 92% copper and only 8% zinc, with a tiny bit of Phosphorus added. This composition serves for getting a rich, warm sound that many guitar players appreciate.
Another important benefit of these strings is that they are more resistant to corrosion. Many of the acoustic guitar strings reviews written by experts and users alike tend to praise this string composition for the many advantages it provides. A guitar with plenty of high-end frequency can be easily tamed with such strings.
The last type we are going to talk about is called Silk and Steel. The steel core of the strings is wrapped in silk, and the result you will obtain will be a mellower sound that you will find easy for fingerpicking.
Another thing to bear in mind is whether you want your strings coated or not. The coated variety comes with a layer of plastic on the exterior. This prevents grime build up on the strings when you play. However, while this may be considered an upside for coated strings, at the same time, the coating takes some of the tonality and also volume. It is up to you what you want to sacrifice and what you want to keep.
Thickness of the string
Another aspect you have to learn about is acoustic guitar strings sizes. The general term used is string gauge, and you will notice it in the shape of numbers added to the description of a string model. The size refers to how thick the string is. When you use thicker strings, you may find it more difficult to play them, as they have more tension. You will notice that the sounds you produce are full and loud and that the guitar vibrates more.
Thinner strings are easier to accommodate, because they are not under heavy tension, and it takes little effort to obtain sounds. However, they cannot deliver the same volume as thick strings.
You will need to experiment a bit if you want to see what works best for you. The string size can vary a lot, and there are not only thick and thin gauges. They are named light, medium and heavy, and there are even two extra varieties, custom light, and extra light, so there is plenty to choose from here.
Here is a small piece of advice for beginners: don’t go for heavy strings right off the bat. Until your fingers get used to playing the strings, you should pick extra light or light strings.
Frequently asked questions about acoustic guitar strings
Can acoustic guitars be used on electric?
Using an acoustic guitar with an electric amp is not impossible, and many people go for this configuration without any trouble. However, the real question is whether you would want to use an electric amp instead of a dedicated acoustic amp for your guitar.
Regarding compatibility, there is no issue; also, you don’t run the risk of ruining your equipment in any way. However, the sound you can obtain may not be exactly what you want. While some famous guitarists may pull incredible distortions with this combination and make it sound great, that is not the norm for most guitar players.
Can acoustic guitars use nylon strings?
Regarding possibility, the answer to this question is ‘yes.’ However, there are a few difficulties that must be mentioned, starting with a technical one. Strings that are made of steel or copper alloys come with ball heads on their ends, so they are easy to set in place and get the necessary tension. However, if you opt for nylon strings, these need to be wrapped around and tied. Many guitar players can tell you that such a practice will leave you with not enough tension in your strings. You will get no volume, and you will not be able to obtain the sound you want.
How can I clean my acoustic guitar strings?
Coated string accumulate less oil and dirt, but not many people like the loss of volume and sound tonality such a choice comes along with. Since acoustic guitars use mostly metal strings, you should bear in mind that using water on them can cause corrosion to appear.
What you need are a specialized string cleaner and a microfiber towel. The latter is an optimal choice because it will leave no lint behind. This is the only reason why you should not use a normal cloth. Don’t spray the cleaning solution on the strings; spray it only on the microfiber towel and wipe the strings gently.
Which acoustic guitar strings are easiest to play?
There are many things to bear in mind when you pick your guitar strings. But, if you are a beginner, you may be wondering which ones are easiest to play. The best piece of advice is to look at the string gauge and go for extra light, if you want to pick the ones you will have no trouble with.
While heavy strings will create fuller sounds than other strings, they can take a toll on your fingers, and, as you may well know, you will have to develop some really strong calluses on your fingers to be able to sustain longer practice hours.
How are acoustic guitar strings made?
Acoustic guitar strings have a core and a wrap that goes tightly around it. Some of them are coated, while others are not. The core is usually made from a copper alloy that is responsible for how rich and bright the sound will be when you’re playing the strings.
The wrap can be made from silk, nylon, or copper, and it protects the core, while also contributing to the tone of the sound you will be able to obtain. Lastly, a coating of plastic may be applied, but this is for protecting the strings against dirt and can dampen the effect of playing the strings.
How long do acoustic guitar strings last?
No matter how religious you are about maintaining your guitar strings in top notch condition, you will still have to bear in mind that they will need replacement once in a while. It all depends on how frequently you practice and how many hours you put into playing the guitar.
If you happen to play only sporadically, you might not need to replace them more often than once a year. However, most guitar players replace their strings once every six months. It would make sense to invest in strings that are sold as packs, as they may last for a longer time while remaining cost-effective.
How much do acoustic guitar strings cost?
Are you interested in learning the price of acoustic guitar strings? If you are serious about learning how to play the guitar, you will have to invest a bit in the necessary equipment, which includes strings, as well. Overall, the price of guitar strings varies between 5 and 30 dollars, and you can find many excellent products at around 10 to 15 dollars.
However, even if you shop on a budget, you should stay clear of the packs sold for less than 5 dollars, because, in that case, the quality may be quite subpar, and that will influence the way you play.
Best acoustic guitar strings brands
This manufacturer is dedicated to excellent performance and service, as well as craftsmanship practices, and their products are all made in the US. Their guitar strings are executed using the latest technologies, and everything, from string composition to special coatings for reducing damage and grime build up, caters to the same purpose, which is to offer customers the highest satisfaction possible.
Especially the coating technology they use reduces the disadvantage coated strings usually present, by being extra thin. With thousands of guitar players all over the world using D’Addario strings, you can rest assured this manufacturer continues to stay true to their purpose.
The history of this company goes way back in time, at the end of the 18th century, when the one who was going to establish the family operation as one of the biggest names in the production of acoustic guitar equipment, was traveling to Vienna to learn the craft from a renowned guitar maker.
Six generations later, Martin remains true to the principles established by its original creators, which is investing care and patience into creating the guitar sound people everywhere will love. From the first stages of building a guitar to the last one, their dedication to excellence remains the same.
Fender is a name synonym for the development of rock ’n’ roll over the years, and the company’s history started in 1946. While you may be a tad surprised to learn that Fender makes excellent acoustic guitar strings, and does not only focus on electric guitars, the truth is that you can expect nothing but a superior performance from all their products.
If you search for excellence at a reasonable price, you will not go wrong with Fender. Seeing that the company is focused on making guitars of fantastic quality, you will not be disappointed with their guitar strings, either.
Control is not something easy to achieve, primarily as a beginner. However, Ernie Ball seems to have discovered what makes excellent guitar strings even more exceptional, by offering their customers the possibility to pick just the right strings for the sound effect they want to obtain.
With big names like Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and Angus Young, to endorse the quality of Ernie Ball guitar strings, it is impossible to deny the advantages they offer. Bronze strings, nylon strings, and other variations are readily available, and you can just choose the ones that work for you.
Elixir Strings is a new company compared to other names in the industry, as it was established in 1995. What it may lack in tradition, the company compensates by making use of the latest technologies, to ensure that their strings last longer than other brands on the market, and, even when using coating, they retain their tonality.
For people who don’t want to invest a lot of money in guitar strings, the products made by Elixir Strings are an excellent choice. The advanced polymer coating created by this manufacturer has already garnered a lot of praise from guitar players.